Jeanette Kuvin Oren’s mother told her always to sign and photograph her art work. That excellent piece of advice allowed Oren to create a hardcover book with photos of pieces that are now all over the world in more than 350 synagogues and 400 private homes. Oren produced the book herself using her own photos, doing the layout and design, and now her own marketing. “It was a labor of love,” she said. “I wanted the book to be an inspiration to people; show them the beauty of new Jewish art that’s cheerful and uplifting.”
Oren’s book shows examples of the many styles and materials that come to life in her hands. Kuvin Oren has created Torah covers, Ark curtains, wall hangings, mosaics, stained and etched glass, ketubot, chuppahs, family trees, and paper cuts. She works with glass artists to create windows and a mosaic fabricator who executes the work from a painting Oren does first. All her fabric art begins with white silk that she dyes in her studio. The book includes a photo essay showing how a synagogue project takes shape from an initial meeting with the committee to a finished work of art.
Oren approaches each project by getting to know the space, people on the committee charged with managing the project, the community, and the architecture of the building. “Some spaces are simple and they want elaborate art; others are elaborate and they want simple art,” Oren said. Her biggest challenge was choosing which pieces to include in the book. “I tried not to include too many of same style,” she said. But it was hard to make the cut. “When I do commissions and I finish and deliver the project, I get very emotional.”
The last photo in the book shows a detailed medical illustration Oren did for a textbook—not surprising since she initially pursued a Ph.D. in epidemiology at Yale. She got married while she was a student and created a ketubah for her wedding. Soon she began making them for others. After a year, Oren made the decision to devote herself full-time to Judaic art.
Oren’s book will appeal to people who love Judaica, synagogues, and artistic beauty. To see her work or purchase the book, visit http://www.KuvinOren.com.
By Bracha Schwartz